The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, Mbo local government area, Akwa Ibom State, has arrested seven suspects and seized about 470 bags of contraband rice in two different arrests.
The five suspects and their wooden boat were intercepted by officials of the Navy on a routine patrol and 308 bags of 50kg rice found with them, while the two suspects were intercepted with 162 bags of 50kg rice, said to be brought in from the Republic of Cameroon.
Speaking in Ibaka during the hand-over of the suspects, and items to the Nigeria Customs Service, Commanding Officer, FOB, Captain Toritseju Vincent, said the Navy was committed to rid the area of illegal activities on the waterways.
His words, “On behalf of the Commanding Officer of Eastern Naval Command, I hand over these five suspects who were arrested on the 22nd of April 2019, with 308 bags of smuggled rice which we suspect were smuggled in from Cameroon.
“I also hand over a medium-sized wooden boat laden with 162 bags of rice arrested near Mbo river by Oron, Calabar channel to the Nigeria Customs Service. The wooden boat along with its two crew was arrested at 07:30 on Sunday, 21 April 2019 during a routine patrol by the Navy gunboats.”
Receiving the suspects and bags of rice from the Navy, the Zonal Commander, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Assistant Comptroller, Kolade Iloyode, who was represented by Kabir Ogah, Deputy Superintendent of Customs, Comptroller General of Customs Strike Force (CGC), Zone C, Akwa Ibom State, commended the Navy for the support.
He said, “On behalf of the Zonal Commander, Assistant Comptroller, Kolade Iloyode, and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in general, we wish to commend all your efforts in combating smuggling in our waterways. Your actions have demonstrated your commitment to the Nigerian nation and the security of our waterways.
“This will encourage us on the land to do more and we commemorate the efforts you have been putting up for us. We thank you so much and we also urge you to continue with the good work for nation building”.
One of the suspects, Emmanuel Bassey from Udung Uko Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, said though he regretted his involvement in smuggling the contraband rice, he was compelled into the business just to survive.
Bassey who manned one of the seized wooden boats said he was working in a sawmill in Cameroon for two years until he was incessantly harassed by hoodlums in Cameroun which forced him to return to Nigeria.
“I went to Cameroon to bring rice back to Nigeria but on my way back, I was arrested by the Navy. I used to saw wood before now; this is my first time in this trade. I was promised N5,000 but now, I regret my involvement in smuggling and promise not to do it again,” he said.